• Welcome to Talking Time's third iteration! If you would like to register for an account, or have already registered but have not yet been confirmed, please read the following:

    1. The CAPTCHA key's answer is "Percy"
    2. Once you've completed the registration process please email us from the email you used for registration at percyreghelper@gmail.com and include the username you used for registration

    Once you have completed these steps, Moderation Staff will be able to get your account approved.

FF6 (our third finalest fantasy)


Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Yeah my big problem with this sort of thing is like... WTF is even the source of these ages? It sure as hell isn't the original text, at least in the vast majority of cases where these random lowball numbers crop up.

Like is it just random interns slapping together art books and making personal calls as they eyeball concept sketches or what?

In Final Fantasy's case, often Ultimania Archive guidebook releases, which are directly compiled from development material and staff consultation and supervised by Square/Enix that all the conveyed information is accurate. They have always been extensively thorough.

I maintain that there's a significant personal bias on all our part at play here, and a further tendency to apply a plausibility claim on these fictional universes.

q 3

here to eat fish and erase the universe
I think it's fair to limit what you consider canon to be the information that's in the text. I think it's also fair to rely on supplemental material. Sometimes supplemental material reflects definitive authorial intent, but it can also reflect an idea that was abandoned or modified or just never made firm enough to be stated in the work itself.


The Goggles Do Nothing
I just watched the world end, and now you have to hear about it in...

The Rise and Fall of the Gestahlian Empire
The Fantabulous Career of One Celes Chere
It's a RPG, Stupid

So let's look at how Final Fantasy 6 is either brilliant or flimsy as hell.

Kefka is the villain. Period. Even before he becomes the mad god of a broken world, Kefka is presented as the omnipresent threat that represents the empire. Kefka is the second "main" character to have dialogue (in Terra's initial flashback), he is the envoy of the empire when they come knocking at Figaro, and his presence is felt in each of the three branches when your party is split. When skulking around their base, he can be found in Vector scheming, and then, when the war seems to turn around, you can visit him in prison. In fact, complete with his prison stay, he has a little "hero's journey" of his own, going from high to low to as high as it gets over the life of the World of Balance. It is no wonder that Kefka is fondly remembered as one of Final Fantasy's best villains, because he arguably has more of an arc than many of FF6's "real" protagonists. Gau get stronger on the Veldt, Kefka gets stronger from actual development.

Arguably as a result of this, though, "Kefka's" evil empire and his boss get much less development. What do we know about Emperor Gestahl from the actual text of Final Fantasy 6? Well, he is a scholar/historian (or employs a bunch of them) that was able to uncover not only the ancestral home of the espers, but also the secret Phoenix Magicite cave. He has an unquenchable lust for power, and gains strength through technology and eugenics. He is super okay with exploiting magical babies in various forms. He is a compulsive liar. Past that? We got nothing.

And that is rather important, because Gestahl's quest for power through magic is... weirdly confusing? Surface level, "evil empire seeks ultimate power to conquer the world" is a tale as old as time, but the world of Final Fantasy 6 doesn't really support such a global march. Doma appears to be the only castle full of warriors that are going to fight that evil empire toe-to-toe. Past that, Castle Figaro plays neutral until it has to hide (leaving its southern town to fend for itself... poorly), Narshe has six wolves and a snail for defense, and Zozo protects itself by being a basket full of deplorables. Jidoor might not notice being conquered if they keep the opera house open, and Thamasa has one old man bubble bobble'ing the place afloat. It is noted that Vector pre-conquered the three other towns on its continent before everything got going, and that kind of world building is great for the shading of "half the soldiers you already slaughtered were poor dudes conscripted from towns that didn't even like their leader", but the Battle for Albrook was probably over before it started, because the best that place can say is "has a boat". It didn't work for Black Manta, and it doesn't work for you, Albrook!

So, yes, Gestahl has been amassing untold power the likes of which his world has not seen for a thousand years... to conquer Mobliz, home of dried meat. You have endangered the entire planet to hydrogen bomb a coughing baby. Good job, idiot.

And, as we all know, he makes the extremely common historical blunder of amassing a destructive amount of power into one centralized person/position, and then leaving it to "the next guy" who is crazier than a hornet in a molasses spill (104 years later, never forget). But! Did the emperor have a successor in mind? Someone to keep the empire going after his geriatric ass (according to the Ultimania Guide, he's 50; according to Final Fantasy VI Settei Shiryō-hen, authored by Square in '94, he's 72; according to vibes, he's "grandpa poodle head") finally expired? Well, let's look at Celes.

On a personal note, I feel like Dissidia and similar "post Final Fantasy" games have done Celes Chere dirty. I love any Dissidia game that doesn't include Ramza flying, but the way that "franchise" (I'm including Theatrhythm as part of the Dissidia extended universe here) seems to singularly assign Terra to Final Fantasy 6 ignores how Celes is central to so much of the FF6 narrative. Never mind how she is the Elwood Blues of the second half of the game, she is central to many of the key events of the first half, and is the rare FF protagonist that winds up on both sides of the aisle in a convincing way.

To wit, here is the resume of one Celes Chere:

Raised by mad scientist, infused with experimental magical tech

Most of my Adult Life
General for Gestahalian Empire
Reason for Leaving: Unknown, though probably something to do with an ethical dilemma involving a coworker blabbing about poisoning an entire kingdom

Immediately After Firing
Torture Victim

Seemingly Minutes After That
General in Returner Resistance Group
Successfully commanded new recruits to repel previous employer invading Narshe
Tracked and discovered a missing/magical woman in a dangerous neighborhood

One Night Only

Opera Floozy

Upon being back at Vector for, like, a half hour
Accused of duplicity by previously mentioned difficult coworker
Left Returners, reinstated with Empire

As a General, Again
Aided in the investigation of Thamasa
Didn't die, Leo. Was that that hard?

Rejoined Returners
Flew around the world, fought an octopus
Maybe forgot to inform previous employer of absence during this period

Emperor Gestahl's Final Moments
Was nominated as potential mate for horrible coworker
Finally decided to stab that guy
It didn't take

End of the World - Present


And... the fact that Celes switches sides seemingly routinely without any real acknowledgment is barely ever addressed. Well, it is addressed by one guy, and...

Well, I guess we'll look into that, too.

Locke Cole is a thief... nay... treasure hunter. Prior to FF6, he has had a hard life protecting exactly one (1) woman, and failing miserably. He has apparently joined up with the Returners, and is their official guy that they call when a woman is in danger.

... Seriously.

Like, was he the only person in the vicinity of Narshe when Terra fell down a hole? Edgar's entire kingdom is right there! But, no, Alvis rang this weirdo in a bandana, and he imprints on Terra like a baby bird. Did Banon... Edgar... Alvis? Did someone in charge know that Locke had this pathological obsession with damsels in distress, and figured he was the right man for the job? Because he wasn't. He had to repel an army's worth of angry Narshians, and he was only saved because a group of eleven teddy bears happened to be in the area (and the question of why they were so willing to fight the local human population on behalf of one green-haired stranger is never answered. Did Ramuh telepathically summon Mog and friends? Why is Ramuh's only active move in this plot to magically speak to albino bat-penguins?). But Locke does save Terra, and, when he is taken off the case at Returner HQ, he then finds and fixates on Celes. This infatuation seems to be more mutual, and the two spend the rest of the story orbiting each other like someone cast the worst version of graviga.

And, at one point, Locke doubts the loyalty of Celes thanks to Kefka making a comment that implies Celes is and has always been a spy. This is integral not only to the plot, but also the theory that Final Fantasy 6 is stupid.

Let's center back on Locke. If you ask any Final Fantasy fan to describe Locke, they will likely recount how Locke is a noble thief. Sure, he steals, but he is doing it because he has a heart of gold, and thievery is just the route he takes to his ultimate goal: protecting every woman he has ever spoken to. He really is a treasure hunter, because he is hunting for the treasure that will bring his (first) beloved back to life. There are even odds that Locke joined the Returners because he heard Emperor Gestahl had found this magical treasure. And, side note, this is all bullshit.

Locke is a noble thief. There is exactly one scenario in Final Fantasy 6 where this is important, and that is "Locke's scenario" where he sneaks out of South Figaro through cunning and stealing a bunch of dudes' clothes. Other than that? Locke has to brute force his way out of Narshe with Terra, and if he had to use careful infiltration techniques to get there in the first place, we never see it. Escaping from flaming Figaro could have used some finesse, but it was mostly just jumping on birds. Does Zozo, the town full of thieves have anything to do with your resident thief? Not unless you count finding a treasure for him that he doesn't even have to be present to receive. And there isn't even so much as a comment that Locke, who is required for the whole Opera scenario, maybe doesn't belong with high society during our time in Jidoor's favorite entertainment venue. Similarly, he is required for sneaking into the Magitek factory, but it's some rando on the street with a tummy ache that gets you in there. And, finally, Terra's escort for Thamasa doesn't seem to do anything in that town, and exists primarily to be "the human" in a town full of magicians and a ninja. Thank The Triad that he doesn't fixate on Relm like some protagonists...

So why do people immediately recall that Locke is a thief when the overall narration paints him more with the archetype of "knight" than anything else? Well, because he's got a "steal/mug" command. But also because Final Fantasy 6 still wants to toe the line of RPG even this "late" in the franchise...

Let's double back to the betrayal of our heroes at the Magitek Factory. Locke says a thing, Kefka says a thing, Celes says a thing, Locke says a thing, Celes does a thing, and then Celes and Kefka are gone. Locke doubts Celes, yes, but it is a line of dialogue before we have to talk to gramps and hop in a minecart. We do not get any further comments from Locke regarding his state of mind or thoughts. FF6 does not shy away from characters shouting their internal monologues at you ("Yes, Terra, you want to love, we get it"), but we get no such moment with Locke. It is addressed again some time later when Locke and Celes are hanging out before departing for Thamasa, but even the point of that scene is that Locke won't say what he is thinking. He appears to be angry, but is he angry at Celes? Angry at himself for doubting Celes? Angry because he just realized he missed 2 for 1 Apps at TGI Figaro's? We have no idea. And we even have no idea how much Locke ever "believed" Kefka at the initial betrayal. Was that the comment of a man that genuinely believed he did not know the woman standing next to him, or someone who just realized for the first time that Celes might be duplicitous? Maybe this was the first time he thought of Celes as a person beyond a damsel? Maybe this is the first time he thought of any woman as a person and not a object?

And whatever answer you have to that question is correct.

Said it before, and I'll say it again: until Final Fantasy 7, no one was quite sure if the franchise should actually be a role playing game. Final Fantasy is a Dungeons and Dragons campaign where the dungeon master watched way too much Miyazaki (editor's note: impossible statement, please revise), and, complete with the anonymous "Light Warriors", you are meant to inhabit those characters in this unfamiliar world. Your fighters and mages are level 1 exactly when you have level 1 knowledge of "their" planet, and you are genociding imps with Masamunes when you have leveled up with your team. Final Fantasy 3 (original, not DS) pulled a similar trick with its onion kids (and a big part of that adventure was finding out you had no idea of the scope of that "world"), and Final Fantasy 2 was so friggen shallow that its main characters may as well have been anonymous (there is a reason the most repeated "character moment" in FF2 seems to be the non-event of Firion getting seduced) with the "guest characters" pulling most of the narrative weight. Final Fantasy 4 has character-characters with a concrete plot, and FF5 seemed to answer this with well defined protagonists (Faris is one of the goats for the franchise) with extremely variable gameplay "roles", so if you wanted to imagine Lenna as a supportive white mage or deadly berserker, the plot allowed it. Final Fantasy 6 seemed to follow Final Fantasy 4 again, though, with characters with distinct classes that allowed for very little customization. Sabin looks like a muscled-up bear, so he cannot learn how to use Edgar's machines. Gau can learn from monsters, but never master a slot machine. And, in the same way, you are never going to find Strago single-handedly holding up a building, nor will you see Relm catfishing a widow via pigeon. The decision was made to make Final Fantasy 6's protagonists defined in and out of battle.

But they're not defined that well. Brevity is the source of Fantasy. Unlike someone that would type up thousands of words just to make a Final Fantasy-based Super Friends joke, the writers of Final Fantasy 6 handed in a very punctual script. Characters say "their deal", elaborate in the precise way that will advance the plot, and then call it a day. "Locke presses X to doubt" was probably the initial script note for the Magitek Factory, and we didn't need anything more than that. Unfortunately, this causes any number of the problems already noted from the Evil Empire having no worthy opponents to Celes Chere having the damndest time talking to Human Resources about whether or not she still has health insurance ("Can't you just cast Cure on yourself?" "Yes, but that doesn't heal dental."). But one benefit? You can still role play with these characters. Final Fantasy 6 provides a rough outline, but filling in those blanks? You are welcome to color with whatever crayons you like.

Is Terra trans? Does Locke pickpocket Edgar at every opportunity? Does Setzer have face blindness? There is nothing in the text that confirms 100% that these things are true or not true, so have a field day. There is a lot of time spent in Final Fantasy 6 skulking around dungeons or traversing the world map, and practically anything could be happening during these events. Cyan could be teaching Gau how to play the harmonica. Setzer could be hitting on Edgar at every chance, and Edgar has literally no idea how to deal with that. Locke could equally be spending all of his time post-Vector thinking Celes is a duplicitous spy or regretting the fact that he doubted her for even a second. We don't know! And you are in control of these dudes and ladies, so you are welcome to role play the whole gang as you see fit.

It is a shame that future Final Fantasy games all but dropped this kind of loose role playing. Now, more than ever, we could use a critically acclaimed RPG with an expanded free trial which you can play through the entirety of A Realm Reborn and the award-winning Heavensward expansion up to level 60 for free with no restrictions on playtime. But, alas, that is but a dream.

In the meanwhile, the ultimate expression of role playing in Final Fantasy 6 happens in the World of Ruin, as you take Ex-General Celes Chere to save the world with no less than three, but no greater than fourteen different allies. We'll see how that works out for everybody soon enough...


????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
Does Setzer have face blindness?
That would mean that The Impresario of the opera house also has face blindness. (Or does Celes actually resemble Maria?)

Also did Seltzer ever even see Maria in person before deciding to abduct her or has he only ever seen paintings/drawings of her on posters or playbills?

I love any Dissidia game that doesn't include Ramza flying
Do you not like it when Ramzan flies (either through his own ability of via a device / machine) or do you just not like that specific Dissidia game (or games).


the world of Final Fantasy 6 doesn't really support such a global march.

I'd say FF6's take on "here is a world that this big evil empire is conquering" works pretty darn well given the design constraints they were working with and the fact that quite frankly you only see the empire proper like 20 minutes before that whole version of the world gets wiped off the map. We can only make a world map so big if we're gonna use it as a texture for the whole mode 7 thing, which is rad as hell, and we've already used most of that space up, so, here's a fairly sprawling continent with the imperial capital, and several scattered cities they've conquered already. None of these are particularly impressive, but also like, from both a storytelling and pragmatic game design sense, we don't really need any of them. It'd be nice to have a separate town map to do shopping in beyond the big imposing capital structure, could have made like FF1 there, but we spread it all out explicitly to be able to say they've conquered this many neighbors. And presumably, they were able to put up some kind of a fight at the time, but whatever military resources they had were taken back to the capital. Might have restrictions on having any sort of armed presence outside of imperial patrols passing through now and then to make sure everyone's still subjugated.

As for the rest of the world, honestly, as impressive as Vector is, it seems like intercontinental travel is a pretty serious hurdle to them. The empire does not have any sort of air power whatsoever. There are two airships in this setting, they are fragile zepplins, and they were both, to my understanding, built by Daryl (and bankrolled by Setzer) as fairly small personal pleasure cruise sorta setup. And did I mention fragile? The empire DOES have flying robots, but given how bulky they are and how you only see them at the very heart of the empire, I'm guessing they don't have a whole lot of effective range. They don't really seem to do light-weight materials, generally. That leaves sea travel. The capital itself is landlocked. We do see very large shipping vessels, but it's strongly implied there aren't a whole lot of these, just a couple big ones making the long hauls. So you secret a couple of those, you march some soldiers and magitek over to them (and we're not mass-producing magitek, most of the contingent headed to Figaro are on foot, including the commander), spend a couple weeks on a ship, dock in one of the few places with a big port you can really unload from, march through the wilderness getting attacked constantly by wildlife that does seem to pose a danger even with the giant robots, and then every town we care about is in a really inconvenient spot to attack. Up a mountain, in a desert, properly fortified with a moat, in some big winding valley. They're still going for it because they really want to be a world-conquering empire, but just deploying seems like it's really a costly ordeal with a lot of attrition. You make some real headway with peace talks largely because it's honestly not worth it for them.

It is a shame that future Final Fantasy games all but dropped this kind of loose role playing. Now, more than ever, we could use a critically acclaimed RPG with an expanded free trial which you can play through the entirety of A Realm Reborn and the award-winning Heavensward expansion up to level 60 for free with no restrictions on playtime. But, alas, that is but a dream.

Well, if you're going to invite the comparison...
So, FF14 just has the same empire from FF6, straight up. They don't QUITE commit to "this is literally the same setting" but it feels very very much like some sort of AU version. Same uniforms, same magitek armor, same weird freaking hat on the emperor, and the Samurai filled city they conquer is freaking called Doma and plays Cyan's theme.

And they do work a little harder to address some of these issues. There's still the one continent they spread over before crossing oceans, but it's bigger, and we see very little of it, mostly just hearing vague news, and the parts we do see feel like they both put up a real serious fight and require a lot of maintenance forces. Notably at some point they conquered the entirety of Ivalice, which were just dropping into this world map, sure, why not? and when doing major world travel you just kinda have to constantly loop around that whole chunk of map. It's admitted that most of the conquests have no real strategic value, they're just out there for ideological reasons of being decidedly more on-the-nose Nazi stand-ins with this master race destiny idea. And the idea of an emperor who doesn't really have a replacement lined up for when he dies is... pointedly addressed. So yeah it's really interesting to contrast the two.

Locke has to brute force his way out of Narshe with Terra, and if he had to use careful infiltration techniques to get there in the first place, we never see it.
He's just that good!


In my headcanon, the Empire's air presence is built on older, more industrial tech and not Magitek, which is why it's lacking compared to their land power. It's naval power is relatively weak as well, which is why Yang will ask the king for a ship and sneak into Baron that way and...

*clears throat*



Me and My Bestie
(He, him)
The obvious reasons we don't see much of the Vector Air Force are 'cuz it'd be really annoying to constantly be assaulted by flying enemies on the airship and aside from maybe the Floating Continent (which had other enemies as the main priority) there aren't a lot of places where the Empire sending out soldiers in flying machines would make much sense.

Granted, this is a game where you can be assaulted by clowns, bunnies, and half-naked women riding tapirs on a regular basis...but this ain't Bahamut Lagoon.


Round and round I go
Staff member
FF15 proved that it's not very fun when the empire uses its air force throughout the game.
Long suspected the Blackjack was simply faster than anything the Empire might attempt pursuit or interception with. And that's the most thought I ever gave to it.


The Goggles Do Nothing
Would you kindly choose to read this essay about Final Fantasy 6?

The World of Ruin of Final Fantasy 6 is all about freedom. In the previous five Final Fantasy games, there was often a point where you reached... let's call it... the end of the world, and...

... Wait. No, that doesn't work. Errm...

Well, every Final Fantasy is a finite adventure, and eventually you reach its finale. And, regardless of whether there is a hell emperor or space bug skulking around, you the player reach a point where you've seen everything, and have been everywhere. Traditionally, this somehow coincides with earning your "final" airship, whether that be some kind of moon whale or the simple ability to land on unusual tiles. Or maybe the world itself has been fully revealed! Whatever! The point is that there is a "final" point where you have seemingly infinite freedom... but you've seen it all. You can go anywhere on the planet, which includes the two "bonus" dungeons left, or a magic shop you might have missed outside the bounds of a town.

In other words, you have the freedom of choice on a global scale, but no actual choices to make.

The Final Fantasy immediately preceding Final Fantasy 6 was, naturally, Final Fantasy Extreme Final Fantasy 5. The final act of that game presented a "brand new world" with unique challenges, an almost immediate airship, and the option of raiding the final dungeon super early. But, like in previous Final Fantasy games, the actual progression of that "world" was less about choice and more about following the traditional upgrade line. The ancient weapons must be collected in order thanks to airship/catapult shenanigans, and, while there are some optional areas about, there is very little to distinguish this general progression from choosing between initially defeating Kary or Tiamat. The whole "final world" scenario of Final Fantasy 5 offered a general illusion of choice (you can always fight the tree! He's right there in his tree hole!), but it was just that: an illusion. A fantasy.

Final Fantasy 6's World of Ruin initially follows the same general beats as Final Fantasy 5's changed planet: you are alone, and things are confusing. At least one blonde is despairing over a lost world. Over time, you assemble an incomplete party, see a few sights from the new world, and get a little bit of a grip on the place. Then you have your airship, the enemy stronghold is immediately available over there, but you know you have things to do before that to plump up your party's options. The significant difference in Final Fantasy 6, though, is that you truly do have the freedom to do (almost) anything from the minute you start searching for friends. You want to raid Kefka's Follower's Tower for treasure? Go for it. Make a beeline for Mog and his encounter-canceling charm? All yours! You can equally dive into a town of children or a sandworm's clown-filled stomach. Even the trail of Cyan being presented as your next available party member after earning the airship goes cold after he leads you to Gau/The Veldt/Whoever-is-Behemoth-Chow. But even without obvious plot steps, there is not a single character or sidequest in Final Fantasy 6 that cannot be found thanks to a clue from an NPC. You have freedom, and, if you pay attention, you will have no doubt where you have to go.

... Have to go...


As everybody who has played Final Fantasy 6 knows, you have no choice at all in the World of Ruin when it comes to your party. Give or take "a challenge run", no one who has ever understood how a videogame works has ever given up on a single party member. You know your original party of twelve is out there somewhere, and you will catch 'em all before the final showdown. Triangle Island's favorite son/daughter might be a little esoteric, but can you honestly tell me someone is going to ditch Relm and leave her to paint in some frog's basement for the rest of her days? Or you'll just ignore those thieves on the Veldt all but shouting at you to "form a party of three to find Gau"? No. You're going to reclaim your friends just as surely as you guided Sabin back from the afterlife. Even if you never plan to add Umaro's berserker rage to your active party, if you have the slightest inkling that brute exists, you're going to recruit him. To claim you would do anything else is folly.

The World of Ruin isn't unfettered freedom of choice, it's a checklist.

So where is there true choice in this blighted world? Well, it's sitting in this hovel...


I hate this guy. This jerk would give Stanislav Petrov choice paralysis.

Let me explain for anyone that managed to miss this geriatric petitioner of Solomon: sometime after the fall of the world, one of Narshe's two last remaining humans found a chunk of magicite (or he always had it, and was holding out for the first half of the game). He could just hand over the magicite like every other magicite in the game, but, no, he used to run a weapon shop, so he offers to transform the magicite into a sword. However! This is a one-time choice, so you cannot return later to forge that sword anew, nor can you ever un-sword this magic rock after it has been created. This is a one-time deal, and you have to make the choice practically as soon as you unlock his front door.

(Come to think of it... you never do lock his door again after you leave. I wonder if he was eaten by gigantic pink wolves moments after you left. I wonder why that thought makes me happy...)

Here is your pros and cons list:

Ragnarok (Magicite)
+ The only magicite that teaches Ultima, the unequalled best spell in the game
+ Anyone can use it
+ Allows for the Ragnarok summon, which can be used to farm rare items
+ Means you'll have a complete list of Espers (Give or take Odin/Raiden)
- Ultima is great, but there are 70 different ways to do 9999 damage in this game
- Ultima can be found elsewhere for a significant time cost

Ragnarok (Sword)
+ 2nd best sword in the game
+ Phenomenal critical hit chance (albeit fueled by MP)
+ May cast a free charge of Flare
+ Can be "traded" for the completely unique, absolutely best sword in the game
- Not everyone can equip/utilize a sword
- Of those that can use swords, maybe two would actually benefit from the equipment in a significant way
- If you are a complete moron, you can accidentally Throw, sell, or otherwise trash either sword

In the end, my personal opinion is that there is no clear and obvious winner in the original release. Ultima is great, but you can put in the time and earn it elsewhere if you really need it. Ragnarok - Illumina/Light Bringer is something to behold when you max out offensive capability with a Genji Glove & Offering/Master's Scroll. Either option gets you murdering Kefka flunkies with inspiring panache, and either option has alternatives, too. It might not be as one-and-done to dispel a cursed shield or pump up Sabin's magic to properly bum rush his opponents, but you've got options.

And that's the issue here: you've got options. You can only choose one option. That's horrifying.

Which is odd, because otherwise, Final Fantasy 6 is cowardly when it comes to actual choices. Fatally so...

Shadow is the aloof ninja of the cast. In replaying FF6, I was shocked to realize that Shadow can be almost a complete stranger over the course of the game. You "name him" in South Figaro, but he does not join the party at this time. He can join Sabin on his quest across the Doma Kingdom, but it is equally possible he will leave the party literally after one battle. Even if he sticks around through the Phantom Train, he is never involved in the Sabin-Cyan buddy comedy hijinks, and increasingly feels like an afterthought. He can again join the party in the quest for a missing Terra, but that requires almost precognitive-level planning, and all but guarantees you will miss out on some fun world building with other characters for the sake of "guy that throws stuff". It is only when he is finally required in Thamasa that he actively does something (saving Relm/"you" from a burning building), but that is also a part of the game where he is only a member of the active party for the walk from the boat to town. The end result is that Shadow is a nobody when he joins you for the Floating Continent, and his turn as "I will try to repair the only thing holding this world together, you guys run" is a genuine surprise (if you didn't have Nintendo Power or knowledge of "assassin with a heart of gold" tropes... or even just naturally accepted anybody that likes dogs more than people). And whether or not you wait for Shadow... well, it's a choice with consequences. If you leave Shadow to die, he will die-die, and that's the last you see of Clyde. If you wait for him until the literal last second, he will be saved, and live to see the World of Ruin.

Which... uh... makes his life worse?

Shadow in the World of Ruin gets wrecked by a behemoth. You save him, and he is taken back to Thamasa to recover, as Strago is the only party member that owns a bed that is not haunted (go ahead and do the math on that one. It checks out). Shadow experiences a bout of PTSD at waking up in Thamasa, walks out, and decides to go back to fighting for money and/or swords. Offer the right sword as a prize, and you can beat him into joining back up with the old gang to fight Kefka. He then experiences exactly zero character development (Gau at least gets to buy a suit!), hangs out with the party for a handful of adventures, and then aids in the attack on Kefka. Upon literally saving the world, he apparently decides to take advantage of the chaos of the tower collapsing to straight up die. He perishes lamenting a dead friend, and leaves his dog and daughter behind to a world that is marginally less destroyed than it was immediately after his failure at statue moving.

Shadow can kinda ambiguously die off screen while attempting to save the world.
Shadow can kinda ambiguously die off screen immediately after his friends saved the world.

And if he lives for an extra year in between, he didn't seem to accomplish all that much. Probably ruined Siegfried's day at the coliseum once or twice, and that's about it. You can use that role playing thing to believe he was an integral party member in such events as the Phoenix Cave or Hidon's Island, but, even among the "optional" events of FF6, Shadow does not show any growth or change. He has some bad dreams here and there, and that's the best he can hope for. Lore, but no learning.

So, once again, there is no choice at all. Though we have not yet been blessed by a Final Fantasy 6-2: Gogo's Adlai Years, if there were a Final Fantasy 6 sequel, we know the writers wouldn't have to address the player choice of Shadow. Whether or not they wanted to give the dude a grave or reveal he secretly survived his presumed deaths, he would be the exact same character with the exact same fate regardless of player choice. You have some wiggle room with whether or not Gau ever met his father, or if the party ever explored the "secret" War of the Magi castle beneath Figaro desert, but we know for certain that Shadow suffered a sad, lonely death whether you gotta wait for Shadow or not.

A fondly remembered icon of Final Fantasy 6, and he had less options available than a rock.

A magical rock, of course, but still a rock.

But if this nonsense is coming to a point, it is this: that's just how I like it.

I've said this before, but I play videogames to enjoy myself. While this seems like an obvious statement, the corollary is that I do not play videogames to be punished for making terrible decisions. On a daily basis, going all the way back to my childhood (when Final Fantasy 6 was released!), I have had to make decisions, and some of those decisions could have consequences with long tails. I do not choose to get married or start a new career on a daily basis, but I often choose whether or not to start a "project" that has the potential to go nowhere, or if I should offer a friend some advice that could be terrible for both of us. Videogames are so much easier: if you choose to fight the bad guy, you are inevitably impacting that world in a positive way. In fact, you cannot even "choose" to fight the bad guy, because thou must, lest time itself doesn't pass for your heroes. You will do the right thing, or you just turn the game off.

So, in this way, I know I am always making the right choice and always advancing in Final Fantasy 6. Choosing to learn this esper magic is not going to lock me out of that other magic, and wholesale slaughtering cactuars is not going to lead to some ecological destruction just because I needed more magic points for Meltdown. There is no morality, no "builds" to worry about: just do you want to put your party back together or not? And of course you do! That's why you're playing the game! You can skip all those Super Mario Bros. 3 worlds with a warp whistle, but you're only hurting yourself by playing less Mario. You want to play through these dungeons. You want to fight these bosses. You may never add Cyan back to your team again, but do you really want to skip that whole optional quest where you get to pilot magitek armor again for three screens? Of course not! Get in the dream robot, Shinji!

So I feel like I can see behind the curtain, and understand why I liked Final Fantasy 6 from the time I was twelve. The whole World of Ruin offers the illusion of choice, which feels unerringly empowering, but there are really no choices at all. And that's great! Because I secretly hate choice, and apparently wish my life was controlled by a magical despot that had some kind of "light of judgment" to keep me from making incorrect choices. Neat!

And I guess I'll just start a twitter poll next time I have to choose between rock or sword. Either that, or play the Advance version where I can get both...


Round and round I go
Staff member
I will read every essay about Final Fantasy 6 that you choose to write.

You save him, and he is taken back to Thamasa to recover, as Strago is the only party member that owns a bed that is not haunted (go ahead and do the math on that one. It checks out).
Edgar owns a bed, but depending on how you've checked your list, it might be underground at the moment.

Locke owns a bed, but depending on how you've checked your list, it might be occupied by his comatose lover.

Sabin owns a bed, but I think it's being used by Bum Rush Man. (I forget his name, and I'm not going to look it up)

I think Mog owns a bed made of straw, but it's in a cave overrun by monsters in a town overrun by monsters, so not the best choice for a ninja in recovery.

Celes has inherited a bed, but it would be poor taste to stick Shadow in Cid's deathbed.


The Goggles Do Nothing
I will read every essay about Final Fantasy 6 that you choose to write.

Edgar owns a bed, but depending on how you've checked your list, it might be underground at the moment.

Locke owns a bed, but depending on how you've checked your list, it might be occupied by his comatose lover.

Sabin owns a bed, but I think it's being used by Bum Rush Man. (I forget his name, and I'm not going to look it up)

I think Mog owns a bed made of straw, but it's in a cave overrun by monsters in a town overrun by monsters, so not the best choice for a ninja in recovery.

Celes has inherited a bed, but it would be poor taste to stick Shadow in Cid's deathbed.

Edgar is a king, and has a throne, but I have never seen his bedroom. I bet that's true for all the women in Figaro, too, ha cha cha cha.

Locke's lover is in the care of that weird old man in the house on the hill. That is clearly the old man's house/bed.

Sabin is an edge case, as everything in Duncan's Cabin smells like Sabin, apparently. But Duncan is confirmed alive in The World of Ruin, so he is probably the sole proprietor.

I am not even entertaining the idea that Mog owns anything. My brother does not even have clothes.

Celes has forgotten that Solitary Island exists. This is the only reasonable explanation for why, in a world where she saves Cid, she doesn't stop back to pick up Grandpa.


did i do all of that?
I cannot think about Shadow/Clyde, at all, ever, without thinking of Deptford's comic about him:


For me, this is canon.


????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
Don't worry Seltzer - you can just cast Life on Shadow / Daryl.


Oh no. Uh, do we still have any Fenix Downs lying around?

The whole "final world" scenario of Final Fantasy 5 offered a general illusion of choice, but it was just that: an illusion. A fantasy.
Is that what Final Fantasy has meant all along?

+ The only magicite that teaches Ultima, the unequalled best spell in the game
- Ultima is great, but there are 70 different ways to do 9999 damage in this game
Ultima is great as long as your magic isn't high enough to cause an overflow. But then you can just observe the 2nd bullet in the quote.

- Not everyone can equip/utilize a sword
But that can be worked around by using the Merit Award (if you're playing on a version that doesn't ruin the fun for that relic).


Threat Rhyme
I took it on my last playthrough only because I have otherwise never done it, and dunno that I will again. While it's true that there are more than enough ways to 9999 all enemies besides Ultima, the same can be said for the sword, and I'd rather have a full Esper list than a weapon that I'd rarely actually use in battle.

Plus if you DO want Ultima the only other way is breaking the curse on the shield which is just not worth it to me. Sure the Paladin Shield is a great piece of equipment even putting aside the Ultima learn rate but the time investment is just too much. Especially since Locke is one of the last, if not the last, party member I get so I'm close to done with the world of ruin by the time I get the shield. Just has a lot going against it.


Yeah, there is a list of Espers, that will be missing one entry, which I can't stand. For weapons, there is no list. The choice is obvious for me.


The Goggles Do Nothing
Speaking of choices: who is everyone's favorite Final Fantasy 6 playable character that is not a ghost?




You've got 14 characters, and only need 12 for Kefka's Tower. Which two stay on the airship forever?


I vote for Gogo and, uh, Locke? I looked at my party, from two years ago, and am surprised that I used Locke. I guess I did find a decent weapon for him.

Took a look, I left Gogo and Setzer behind. So, two of these three get my vote.
I used Umaro a lot when I first played the game as a kid, and I'm pretty sure I brought him to the end of the game in that first playthrough, but every other time I've played it, having a better idea of what I was doing, I left him behind. The other bench warmer varies. It used to be Locke, because I underestimated his unique weapons for a long time. Sometimes it's Gogo, because I want to min-max Esper level up bonuses and they can't get any. Sometimes it's Cyan, because the gimmicks that make him good are all time consuming to use and I don't feel like putting up with any of them.

I should leave Gau out some time, because I don't really like grinding on the Veldt, but I do like Relm and Mog and Strago, so I end up going there just to hunt Behemoth Suits and it's like, I guess I should bring Gau and learn Rages while I'm at it, right? And then since I've invested in Gau, I end up using him, which means I want another Behemoth Suit. Maybe next time I play the GBA version, it'll be easier to break free of that cycle, since you get two Behemoth Suits from the boss in the cave on the Veldt in that version, and Gau can't use the Merit award, which makes him significantly less good and less fun. Or I could leave out Sabin, who stops being impressive the moment somebody learns Ultima, or Setzer, who I already don't use much outside of Kefka's Tower.